Comparative study of e-practice in an American university and an Australian university

Sayed Hadi Sadeghi

PhD thesis, conferred 2016

The overall aim of this study was to further comparative understanding of e-practice in Australian and American universities. The study used one Faculty in an Australian university and one Faculty in an American university as examples. The theoretical focus was on the cultural context as well as on practice in the e-learning area. The variables of instructivism and constructivism were explored for establishing the differing cultural context of the two countries. The pedagogical, performance appraisal, instructional design, technological, administrative and support service were investigated to establish e-practice differences between the two countries.

Studies 1 to 3 used both a qualitative and quantitative methodology in order to ascertain the current status of e-learning. Participants were students, lecturers and administrative staff of one Faculty in an Australian university and one Faculty in an American university engaged with e-learning programs. Study 1 investigated the dominant cultural dimensions of the two universities. The results of this study showed that the dominant e-learning approach of one Faculty in an American university was toward constructivism while the dominant e-learning approach of one Faculty in an Australian university was toward instructivism. In Study 2, the current status of e-learning practice was investigated in the two universities using a quantitative methodological approach. The results indicated that the level of e-practice in all aspects of e-learning was above average in both universities. Participants of the American university rated their system consistently higher in most aspects of e-practice than the Australian university participants. In Study 3, the current issues of e-learning practice in four aspects, namely pedagogy, culture, technology and e-practice, that need to be improved, were investigated by applying a qualitative method. The results of interviews identified pedagogical challenges in approaches to learning, effective learning practice, assessment method and learning content as areas that need attention. Cultural sensitivity, effective cultural practice and key technological challenges as well as issues like faculty policies, quality, learning management system, and online support were revealed as areas that could improve the e-learning systems in both universities.

Although both America and Australia have shown progress in the field of e-practice, it is apparent that the quality and quantity of e-practice factors in an Australian university needs to be sped up. This is despite the fact that the context of e-learning in an Australian university studied has been improved by Asian cultural contact. From this perspective applying the pattern and technology that has been used in the American university could help to guide an Australian university e-learning system practice in the future.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Nigel Bagnall